This dissertation is accessible only to the Illinois State University community.

  • Off-Campus ISU Users: To download this item, click the "Off-Campus Download" button below. You will be prompted to log in with your ISU ULID and password.
  • Non-ISU Users: Contact your library to request this item through interlibrary loan.

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

First Advisor

K. A. Smith


This dissertation explicates and analyzes a pedagogical approach to the introductory linguistics course centered on teaching the basics of the field in the context of three stigmatized Englishes (African American English, Chicano English, and Appalachian English) rather than using standard or mainstream English as the primary source of linguistic data. The approach is grounded in sociolinguistic and translingual theories and, unlike many other educational approaches centered on language variation, is geared toward those new to the study of language variation and toward speakers of mainstream English varieties (i.e., overtly prestigious varieties that are devoid of highly stigmatized features), rather than toward those who speak stigmatized varieties. The curriculum includes an introduction to the levels of analysis in the field of linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) and the linguistic description and analysis of particular characteristic (and highly stigmatized) features of each variety. This descriptive phase of the course is followed by a sociolinguistic/translingual phase, which includes: (1) investigating the main tenets of language variation, (2) exploring the concepts of linguistic prestige, linguistic prejudice, linguistic profiling, and linguistic discrimination, (3) examining the connections between language, culture, and identity, and (4) developing facility with translingual practices and cross-cultural communication skills, which is important in our globalized, multilingual world in which mainstream U.S. Englishes do not always constitute the expected or privileged norms for communication. Furthermore, while linguistics pedagogy is often steeped in traditional teaching methods, the approach analyzed in this dissertation is grounded in the critical pedagogical approach, which stresses student inquiry and problem solving, the valuing of students’ experiences as important sources of knowledge in the classroom, and learning for resistance and social justice, among other factors.

An analysis of student data collected using a qualitative teacher-research methodology during the implementation of this pedagogical approach reveals that the approach has had proven success in cultivating students’ development of positive, linguistically principled attitudes toward language variation, which serves to counteract both individual and societal linguistic prejudice and linguistic discrimination. Furthermore, the author demonstrates that this approach can be adapted and used with a high degree of success and student engagement in a number of different linguistics courses and even in courses in other disciplines, arguing for increased attention to the topic of language variation and the development of translingual practices for use in cross-cultural and cross-linguistic interactions among students and instructors in various disciplines at the college level as well as among teachers and students in K–12 education.


Imported from ProQuest Hercula_ilstu_0092E_10775.pdf


Page Count


Off-Campus Download